The Brooklyn Museum’s Christian Dior:
Designer of Dreams, curated by Florence Müller in collaboration with Matthew Yokobosky, and excitingly designed by Nathalie Criniere, brings eight decades of high style to the storied establishment.
The exhibition includes some of the impressively theatrical devices that Müller first explored in the 2017 blockbuster iteration of this show at Paris’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and subsequently in America at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, and the Denver Art Museum (where Müller is the Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and Fashion). For instance, there’s a wall of ghostly white toiles, reinforcing the power of craft and the hand in the house’s haute couture, and a curving wall containing accessories, clothes and enchanting doll-sized reproductions of some iconic Dior garments brilliantly arranged in a dazzling shaded rainbow of color.
The Brooklyn exhibition, however, opens with a fascinating look at Christian Dior’s relationship with America
and the installation incorporates pictures and objects from the museum’s own collection, artfully selected by Yokobsky, that suggest Dior’s inspirations or juxtapose his work and that of the designers who succeeded him at his house with contemporary creative forces. After Dior’s untimely death, his brilliant dauphin, the 21-year-old Yves Saint Laurent, was appointed to helm the house, which he did for two years before being drafted into the army for his compulsory military service, where he promptly suffered a mental breakdown. Examples of Saint Laurent’s high-spirited, youthful takes on the master’s work are staged at the Brooklyn Museum against some footage of Marlon Brando in The Wild One— inspiration for Saint Laurent’s radical Beatnik collection of fall 1960 that horrified the Dior establishment and hastened his deferred call-up. Saint Laurent was succeeded by Marc Bohan, whose elegantly patrician designs were calculated not to frighten the horses and who survived as the house’s artistic director for nearly 30 years until 1989, when Gianfranco Ferré brought his own brand of Baroque Italianate bravura to Dior. Müller’s careful selection of Bohan’s work reveals the imagination behind the quiet pragmatism of this under-appreciated designer. “He was,”She explains. “very in tune with the Pop culture of his time.”
Ferré, of course, ceded to John Galliano, who reimagined the house for the 21st century with his spectacular runway shows and dynamic ad campaigns. Raf Simons, although short-lived at the house, left an emphatic legacy, and Maria Grazia Chiuri has married poetry to commerce and found the house’s feminist voice.